How a vaccination warrant could worsen a shortage of home helpers – .

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How a vaccination warrant could worsen a shortage of home helpers – .


JASA, an organization serving the elderly in New York City, said its staff rushed to get vaccinated this week after a total surge from the agency. Of its 660 home health aides, some 94 percent are now vaccinated, up from 20 percent who submitted proof in August, said Kathryn Haslanger, director of the organization. Five people resigned during the term.

This week’s vaccination deadline, set in an August 26 emergency regulation by the Department of Health, covers certified home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, hospices and adult care facilities.

As with the hospital mandate, limited medical exemptions are allowed. The regulations do not allow religious exemptions, but workers whose employers have approved their religious exemptions may be allowed to work for now while the matter is challenged in court.

The hundreds of thousands of home health care workers in the state have been largely out of the spotlight during the pandemic, despite the work they have done to care for high-risk patients. Home health workers were not initially included in New York’s highest priority category for immunization, for example, although after lobbying efforts they were added.

Most home health aides – the bulk of the home health workforce – earn close to the state’s minimum wage of $ 15 an hour. The home health care system, largely funded by Medicare and Medicaid, also relies on a smaller number of nurses, who help oversee the care of homebound patients. The agencies also employ therapists and social workers.

Already facing an industry-wide staff shortage, agencies have started implementing contingency staffing plans, which include limiting new admissions, requesting family members of beneficiaries to home care take a greater part of the burden and allow overtime. The Visiting Nurses Department asks to have until the end of the year to comply with the mandate.

Assembly member Richard Gottfried, who chairs the health committee, said in an interview that “a short delay may well make sense” given the current workforce crisis in home care. He also suggested that the state use federal money to offer improved wages and overtime incentives to help hire and retain home helpers.

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